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Rising waters threaten Central Europe

Workers passed sandbags along the river Gera dam near Walschleben, central Germany, on Saturday.
Workers passed sandbags along the river Gera dam near Walschleben, central Germany, on Saturday.Jens Meyer/Associated Press

BERLIN — Authorities in parts of central Europe issued disaster warnings and scrambled to reinforce flood defenses Sunday as rivers swelled by days of heavy rain threatened to burst their banks.

Several people have died or are missing in floods in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland since Thursday.

Czech officials warned that the waters of the Vltava River could reach critical levels in Prague late Sunday. Interim Mayor Tomas Hudecek said authorities were considering whether to shut down parts of the capital’s subway network and called on people not to travel to the city.

In the nearby city of Trebenice a woman was found dead in the rubble after a summer cottage collapsed due to the raging water, Czech public television reported.

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Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said 200 soldiers have been deployed so far to help local authorities.

In Germany, where at least four people have died or are missing, Chancellor Angela Merkel promised federal support for affected areas and said the army would be deployed if necessary.

Evacuations are also taking place in neighboring Austria and Switzerland. Meteorologists are predicting the rainfall will ease in the coming days.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Associated Press